Adrenaline fix in San Clemente

OUTLAWS (Lee Eisler)

Lee Eisler

Skaters and shredders, photographers, videographers and spectators met on a service road in San Clemente to witness and participate in two days of Southern California’s finest downhill skateboarding on Jan. 22 and 23.

This was an outlaw event, and was promoted well through Facebook and various forums. Riders from all over California and other surrounding states met to be part of this event held on a service road unavailable to motor vehicles.

The first day of the event was the slide jam portion, with the second day holding the race portion.

The road used is steep and technical. Riders must be able to slide in both directions, going left or right. The road features two lefts and two rights. The whole outside of the track is dirt so riders can push their speeds hard while not having to worry as much about crashing and potential serious injuries.

Before the contest began, a police officer spoke to the competitors. Although there would be no motor vehicles on the course, the officer told everyone to watch for bikers and pedestrians using the hill.

A slide is when the skateboard loses traction with the ground. It is completed when the wheels grab traction again. Slides can be done in any direction with different variations of slides. Different types of slides are harder than others.

A slide jam, an event where skateboarders gather to perform tricks and slide their boards, is usually held on a small section of a road. Riders are given a set amount of time to throw down the hardest, fastest slides, or to get air off the kicker ramps. Whoever is doing the fastest, biggest, most technical slides wins. In this case it was a small straightaway into a left turn that they used for the slide jam.

This particular slide jam featured two differently sized kicker ramps and a rad zone. The rad zone was marked by a chalk line and it started just past the second kicker ramp and went into the turn.

“If you usually grab rail then get rad and don’t grab it, throw a switch stand up slide, just get rad,” said Danny Connor, the event’s judge.

Anything done in the rad zone, which was drawn out with chalk at the end of the straight going into the left turn, was worth more points.

Skateboarding legends Danny Connor, Marcus Bandy and Max Capps were the judges for the semifinals. The competitors were divided into two groups, each having 20 minutes to impress the judges.

It was then narrowed down to the best. The final heat was another 20-minute jam session and the victors were crowned.

On the podium, Hunter Schwirtz, Laguna Beach, grabbed the highest honor, with Kody Knoble, Los Angeles, in second place and Matt Kienzle, Los Angeles, in third, completing the slide jam portion of the event.

Following the announcement of the winners, it was time for the sponsors to have their 15 minutes of glory. They tossed out stickers to the fans gathered around. One tossed wheels down the hill and encouraged the onlookers to race to be the first to get the speeding orbs because the first to retrieve and return them would be the proud owner of a new set. It was raining an assortment of sponsor giveaways including skateboard trucks, DVDs, apparel and more.

Day two of the race was held on the same road course. Even with fewer competitors, the race was exciting with close competition and several wipeouts. At times both racers crashed off the course taking the turn too fast, creating a fierce battle to see who could get their board and back on the track the fastest. This caused the crowd to explode, screaming and yelling, pumping up the adrenaline all around.

A fresh crew found themselves accepting the top-three spots for the second day of competition. Jimmy Riha, San Diego, took first; AJ Haiby, San Diego in second; and Chance Gaul, Laguna Beach, in third.

Although there were a few gnarly crashes and some riders left with road rash, ripped shirts, and torn shorts, overall it was a safe two days of racing.

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